The Mercury Transit of the Sun May 9, 2016

•May 11, 2016 • 1 Comment

On May 9, 2016 the Planet Mercury transited the face of the Sun. This is a relatively rare event, occurring on average only thirteen times per century.

I had planned to do a public outreach at the Century Village at Cabrillo in Long Beach, California. This is a community of retired and recently separated military veterans that is located in west Long Beach, 60 miles to the southwest.

However, the weather forecast for the Los Angeles basin called for overcast skies. So I made a decision the evening before to travel 59 miles north up Interstate 15 highway over the San Gabriel Mountains to the high desert town of Victorville, California. It was the closest city which had a clear sky weather forecast. I had researched venues in that town the night before and decided to set up at the Victorville City Library. I left Covina at 4:30 a.m. and made it to Victorville by 5:45 a.m. I had all of my equipment out of the truck and set up by sunrise.
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I used my ten inch fork mounted Schmidt Cassegrain  LX250 GPS Meade telescope with a vintage Coronado Helios H-alpha solar telescope mounted piggyback. I set up the telescope so the the entire disk of the Sun was visible. Magnifying to show only a part of the Sun is too confusing for laypeople.
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Since the Library did not open until 9:00 a.m., I had time to take a few photographs of Mercury in mid transit before the public showed up.

The first people who came were the library employees. I explained to the head librarian who I was and who I represented (The Charlie Bates Solar Astronomy Project), and I was there to let the public view the transit. She was happy to see what I had done and when she went in to the library to her desk she got onto the Library’s Facebook page and made a posting to alert library patrons about the event. She also alerted the other city offices and the local elementary school. Unfortunately the school could not organize a field trip on such short notice. But a few people came to the library after seeing the Facebook posting.

Alex the front desk girl…

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Alex, library employee views the Mercury Transit of the Sun on May 9, 2016 at the Victorville California Library

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Alex, the Front Desk Girl, views the Mercury Transit of the Sun on May 9, 2016 at the Victorville California Library

By the time it was over, 37 people witnessed the transit through my telescopes. Since there were no long lines of people, I allowed each viewer the opportunity to take their own photographs of the transit by placing their cell phones against the rubber eyecup of my 2 inch barrel ultrawide 40mm eyepiece. My ten inch SCT telescope has a solar filter aperture mask on the front. Many of the viewers got excellent photographs of the transit in both white light and in H-alpha.

The viewers were library employees, city employees, and library patrons. I was gratified to see two whole families show up with their children. One young man fresh out of high school showed up and told me he was an amateur astronomer. We had time to discuss his aspiration to get a larger telescope to replace his 5 inch Orion Maksutov, and I advised him of local dealers in the Los Angeles Basin and also about used telescope listings on CloudyNights.com.

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Ruben and Roland, City of Victorville employees, view and photograph the Mercury Transit of the Sun at the Victorville California Library May 9, 2016

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Every person that attended got a free pair of Charlie Bates Solar Eclipse Glasses. In addition I donated a nickel iron meteorite to the head librarian to use in educational programs.

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I began packing up at 1:00 p.m. and pulled out of the library parking lot at 2:15, after drinking about half a gallon of water after enduring the full solar flux at 2,726 ft (831 m) elevation for 8 hours. I was  very thirsty…

Then the drive back over the mountains to Covina…
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E.E. Barnard Lecture

•August 14, 2015 • Leave a Comment

44On August 28, 2015 I will be presenting my Edwin Emerson Barnard lecture at Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California at 7:30 p.m. It is a 45 minute Powerpoint presentation about the life and times of this 19th century astronomer.

Spectacular Venus Jupiter Conjunction, June 30, 2015

•July 24, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Here is a rare occasion when two planets are so close together, they can be seen in the field of view of a telescope’s eyepiece. Here is an afocal photo I took of the Venus Jupiter conjunction by holding my camera against the eyepiece. I still of yet replaced my camera to telescope adapter, which was stolen in 2014.

Venus Jupiter Conjunction

Venus Jupiter Conjunction

A summer of Astronomy Outreach

•July 24, 2015 • Leave a Comment

With the summer comes time for Astronomy Outreach. As usual, I try to share my telescope with as many people as I can. Here I am seen at the June 2015 Park Jam at Caesar Chavez Park in Long Beach. I had a total of 35 parents and children who viewed the Sun safely through my telescopes.

Solar Outreach at Casear Chavez Park in Long Beach, California June 7, 2015

Solar Outreach at Casear Chavez Park in Long Beach, California June 7, 2015

Shoulder injury puts a stop to outreach

•January 18, 2015 • Leave a Comment

A recent shoulder injury has preventhed me from doing astronomy outreach. On October 21, 2014 I tore my left rotator cuff while removng my telescope from my pickup truck. I wil be gettin arthroscopic surgery February 9, 2015 to reattach the tendon to my shoulder blade. After that comes five weeks in a sling, and then a few months of rehabilitation. I should be able to resume travelling with my telescope this fall.

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The Solar Eclipses of my Lifetime

•November 13, 2014 • Leave a Comment

A composite photograph of every Partial Solar Eclipse I have witnessed in my lifetime. It is truly amazing how you can precisely place yourself by location, time and circumstance in your lifetime of remembering eclipses:

March 7, 1970
I was a 13 year old boy. I set up my 60mm refractor in my backyard at 6418 Emory Drive in Brook Park, Ohio. I projected the image of the sun onto white poster board. I did not take any photograph as I did not have a camera. The image is a simulation from TheSky program.

July 10, 1972. I was 15 years old. I set up my 60mm refractor in the front yard at 430 Kenmore Drive in Evansville, Indiana. I projected the image of the sun onto white poster board. I did not take any photograph as I did not have a camera. The image is a simulation from TheSky program.

December 10, 1977, I was a 20 year old Airman Second Class in the Air Force, stationed at Reese AFB near Lubbock, Texas. I set up my 60mm refractor in the back of the Jet Engine Shop and projected the solar image onto white card stock. I then took a photo using a Yashica 35mm SLR camera using 400 ASA black & white film . I developed and printed the photograph at the base photo hobby shop. While viewing the eclipse, I shared the view with other sergeants and airmen. This was the first time I did astronomy outreach, and is the first astrophoto I had ever taken. Many years later I found the photo in a storage box and scanned it into a digital image.

June 10, 2002, I joined Gil Clark of the Telescopes In Education Foundation at a city park in Altadena, California. We did a solar eclipse outreach with local residents viewing. I took the photograph with my Contax 167 MT film SLR camera hard mounted at prime focus on an F6.3 focal reducer that I installed on my 10 inch Meade LX50 telescope. I used 400 ISO color film, and digitally scanned the print

May 20, 2012 I set up my 10 inch Meade LX250 Frankenscope at Hilltop Park in Signal Hill, California. This was a Telescopes In Education outreach as April Louise and Carrol Devault also participated. We had well over 100 viewers. I took this image afocally to a 40mm eyepiece using my Canon Powershot A620 digital camera.

October 23, 2014. I set up my 10 inch Meade LX250 Frankenscope at Parking Lot #38 at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital West Los Angeles Campus. I took this image afocally to a 40mm eyepiece using my Canon Powershot A620 digital camera. Two VA employees saw me from their office window and came out to see the eclipse through my telescope..

A Lifetime of Aolar Eclipses

A Lifetime of Solar Eclipses

It has Been a Long Time

•October 30, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Since I posted anything new. I have had some hospitalization and I ended up living in a retirement community for military veterans at a CalVets facility that is located at the VA grounds in West Los Angeles. I still have my telescope and I recently set it up in my room so I can easily take it outside in the patio area. On October 23 I as able to image to partial solar eclipse, and two days later about 25 fellow military veterans and CALVETS employees got to see the Sun and Moon through my telescopes.
Shown is an image of the eclipse that I took using my 10 inch SCT with an F6.3 focal reducer. As usual, my imaging camera was my old Canon Powershot A620 camera.Partial Solar Eclipse Thursday October 25 2014

 
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